Would a Lincoln Aviator by any other name be easier to remember? Not if the name is MKX. The MKX crossover vehicle is a car-based replacement for the truck-based Aviator sport utility vehicle, which itself was a sister of the Ford Explorer.
Aviator was a good name. Lincoln had many good names: Zephyr, Town Car, Navigator. People know what they are, and Lincoln was the only domestic Ford brand that hadn't arbitrarily chosen to begin each new model name with the same letter (F for Ford cars, E for Ford SUVs, M for all things Mercury). Now Lincoln has decided to use alphabetic names like MKX so you have no idea what's what, not unlike Cadillac. Why? The usual reason: marketing people run amok. "Look, those guys are doing well; they have alphabetic names. Let's do that!" Lincoln may not understand that Cadillac and any other successful luxury brand is doing well in spite of — not because of — its alphabetic names.
Where were we? Oh yes, the MKX. It's a five-seat vehicle that, as a crossover, should deliver better interior space, ride and handling, refinement, and just about every other attribute when compared to a truck-based vehicle — except for towing capacity. Like the Ford Edge, the MKX is based on the same platform, originated in the Mazda Mazda6, that now underpins several new midsize cars from brands under the Ford Motor Co. umbrella. Expect to see even more models based on this winning architecture.
It's more a point of fact than a criticism to say the MKX looks a lot like all the other vehicles in its class. The chrome cheese-grater grille is distinctive and a deviation from the Lincoln norm. Around back, an LED taillight strip that ps the rear is another distinguishing element. An MKX on display at the Detroit auto show had 18-inch chrome wheels. Chrome isn't broadly distributed, but it's bold and dominant where it appears, as on the side mirrors.
The interior is done up in the standard Lincoln style, with clean, simple shapes and a silvery center control panel that's more agreeable than some of the fake metal that appears on virtually all new cars. Heated and cooled front seats are optional, as are heated rear seats. The backseat is split 60/40 and has adjustable backrests. Cargo capacity is a claimed 32 cubic feet behind the second row and 68.7 cubic feet with the seats folded.
Lincoln joins BMW in offering a glass-panel roof, here called Vista Roof. The option comprises a large front moonroof and a decent-sized rear one. The show vehicle's in-dash LCD screen, which measures 6.5 inches, incorporates the optional navigation system and brand-exclusive THX premium stereo that includes two subwoofers rated at 600 watts. There's also an auxiliary audio input for jacking-in anything from a laptop to an MP3 player. An 8-inch DVD video screen is another option.
Under the Hood
Ford finally has a modern V-6 engine larger than 3.0 liters. The MKX shares with the Ford Edge a new 265-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 that drives the front or all four wheels through a six-speed-automatic transmission developed jointly with General Motors.
Lincoln packs the MKX with safety features, including standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes, side-impact front-seat airbags and side curtain-type airbags that cover the door windows in a side impact. They also deploy if the vehicle rolls over. Options include traction control, the AdvanceTrac electronic stability system and Roll Stability Control, the latter being the only feature (shared with other Ford Motor vehicles) that senses when a rollover has begun and attempts to stop it. Adaptive headlights, which swing left and right with the steering wheel position, are arguably another safety feature.
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